Tailgating Seattle

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Where is this place? Let’s go! Photo by Aleksandr Kozlovskii on Unsplash

Tailgaters are the worst. In Seattle, tailgating is a lifestyle.

I’ve tried to figure out why so many drivers here ride bumpers. The only reason I can think of is, population density. Ever since the tech industry exploded (Amazon, Google, Microsoft), people keep moving in.

The tech boom has driven the real estate market sky-high as well. While this is a financial boon to the tech workers, the developers, and the real estate agents, the influx has wreaked havoc on the roads.

My son, 15, started drivers ed last month. Driving around with him behind the wheel’s been even more harrowing, because he’s had to deal with these asshole tailgaters constantly.

It’s not a case of one or two speed demons. It’s 90 percent of the driving population going 20 miles over the speed limit on average, converging into one bottle-neck after another, creating the perfect recipe for road rage.

A few nights ago, my son exited 525 toward North Everett with an aggressive tailgater on his back. This asshole was following so closely that my son couldn’t even see the flashing headlights. He did, however, nearly see the angry driver give him the finger before proceeding to cut him off from merging into the left lane.

Now, this tailgating driver had no idea he was being a dick to a student driver, and probably wouldn’t have given two shits, not at the rate everyone’s going.

Every day, there are several collisions holding up traffic even more, the result of speeding and tailgating — even though there are supposedly laws in place against both. Last night, my son drove by a car that had flipped over on I-405, causing a six–to-nine-minute hold-up.

Did you know that it should only take about 21 minutes to get from Mukilteo to Bellevue? Good luck making the trip in under 50. The average is about 59 minutes-1 hour, 5.

People are so uptight here that they can’t even let anyone in front of them. They literally will cut back in front, just to enjoy an unimpeded view up ahead.

Maybe they’re claustrophobic from all this traffic. I know I am.

Both my husband and I can’t wait to move somewhere quieter.

Recently, Gov. Inslee enacted a new law forbidding distracted driving by cell phone, and, secondarily, drinking beverages, eating, and smoking. That’s how bad it’s gotten.

I don’t have a problem with the cell phone crackdown — in effect since July 23 — but how the hell am I supposed to refrain from drinking my precious Starbucks to wake up on the many drives to and from my son’s soccer tournaments? Haven’t people been drinking coffee on the way to work since the automobile was invented?

What’s next, no talking? This is ridiculous.

I hear Deep Cove, Vancouver’s nice this time of year…

 

The Woman on the Side of the Road

“I don’t even have words with which to properly articulate what it’s like when you become that deeply fucked up.” –ChristyShawFitness

“Faith can get you through anything.” –DIY Camper

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Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

Something tells me the Truthers aren’t living in their own fantasy world anymore.

Is it me, or is this place overpopulated? I’m feeling claustrophobic every time I step out of my house, on the roads full of tailgaters and in the stores jammed with last-minute, harried shoppers with hair-trigger tempers.

I live in a constant state of waiting for the next shoe to drop. I can only hope I’m ready, as ready as I’ll ever be.

But that’s not what this blog entry is about.

What this blog entry is about is my perennial self-doubt, especially when put on the spot.

I know I’m not alone. Everybody suffers from self-doubt. When the spotlight’s on us, we freeze, worried to death that we won’t come through, we can’t perform.

Even though I’ve never let myself down, there’s always that initial phase of almost-crippling self-doubt bordering on acute self-consciousness that I’m some fake, and that I’ll must assuredly let you down.

When it comes to writing, I always go through this phase. It’s a mix of extreme laziness — do I really have to do all this work? — and extreme insecurity — what if I fuck up?

A fellow writer in Spokane once told me, “We all go through the same insecurity. But then, you realize you know what you’re doing.”

He’s right.

The minute I start thinking about what I’m supposed to do, I’ve already set myself back.

Athletes go through this too. They overthink the shot, then they miss. They overthink the pitches, then they throw balls, or strike out. It’s called, getting in your head, and we’re real good at it.

Nowadays, society doesn’t really put much stock into feelings or gut instinct. But it’s saved my life numerous times.

I remember a few months ago seeing this homeless woman holding up a sign asking for money at the entrance to a Trader Joe’s. I’d see her every time I went there. The burden of guilt, and fear (that I would end up just like her), weighed down so heavily on me that one day I took $40 out, not much, and walked over there intending to simply hand it to her.

Instead, I looked up at her. We locked eyes, and my arms opened reflexively into an embrace. Keep in mind that I am not an affectionate person. I’m kind of a hypochondriac germaphobe. I have no idea where that came from, other than for once in my life I stopped living in my fucked-up head and focused outward, on someone else.

This love flowed through me and onto her. The words that tumbled out didn’t matter. She responded instantly. We both stood there hugging for what seemed like an eternity. Someone else saw us and came out, walking over $20 to her.

After that day, I never saw her again. I hope she’s doing better.

I need to live like that. I need to live. You know what I mean.

Portal

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She seemed so much younger. “That’s not— ”

“Yes, you. If you choose.”

The open console and the prismed, surround picture windows barely registered. But then I was always the kind to focus only on the task at hand while the rest of the world danced — at times, my downfall. That battle really could’ve been avoided if I’d only stayed longer…

“She’s too … pretty. I’m uncomfortable with reconciling such externals with what I’ve endured. I mean, I’ve split men open like pigs on a spit.”

The panels split into a living storyboard. The music rose with every page-turning evolution, a combination of jazz and pop, what I would chase in the next life — an ever-elusive lover bent on self-fulfillment over reciprocal annihilation.

“You decide.”

“I don’t deserve this one. I can’t.”

“Because you’ve killed?”

“Savagely.”

They leave me alone.

The last panel opened up with a view of sun, sky, and water — the Holy Trinity — her living testament in this dreamscape. I saw the pretty girl with a suitor, beloved, forever after, and their sweet, precocious son. The sea washed over their bare feet. A dog barked in the distance. I could almost feel the warm waves over the center of my heart.

But I’ve taken more than any soul could bear.

“I’m sorry. I can’t. Give me the worst one.” My final answer.

(Dream, July 21, 2017)

Plumeria

I will always associate Hawaii with plumeria.

My friends and I used to sew together leis with the milky sunset blossoms that fell around our Army barracks in Ft. Shafter. It was 1972.

I remember my father warning me not to put the milky white sap in my mouth or I would die. “It’s poison.” I think I put my tongue on a wet finger decades later, on my fourth or seventh visit — as a grown-up.

On the last visit, my husband almost died of bladder cancer. We caught it in time. The nick of time. He and our son went back home to Seattle after a week in paradise, leaving me to deal with the ghosts of my childhood for a few more days.

I couldn’t believe how much my island home had changed. Where were the plumeria? I hunted around for them in the streets of Waikiki. One pinkish-white blossom, absolutely no floral scent.

My childhood had gone, died in fact, somewhere between 1972 and today.

When I gazed up into the sky, all I could see were flowers of another kind, man-made flowers that gave off no pleasant smell and felt hot and hard to the touch.

I can hear the Honolulu Boys Choir and Jimmy Borges singing their hearts out, somewhere over the rainbow — far, far from my diminished return.

Newport FC

And sometimes, my predictions turn out to be just wishful thinking.

My son’s first tournament with Newport FC: two wins, one loss, one tie, they made it to the finals. He scored the second goal of the first game, passed, tackled, and kicked with the kind of abandon he once had as a little boy.

“How do you feel after your MCL injury?”

“I feel great. My knee feels even stronger than before.”

… Now, I sleep.

#SoundersFCCup2017

Tilapia with Eggs

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Photo by Timothy Ries on Unsplash

a severed head

maggots oozing pearly whites in their own special sweet-sour sauce (the day I chewed a fly in my Campbell’s Alphabet Soup)

tilapia’s mouth opening on little tiny gray-haired caviar

in one week’s time, a small orchard of U-Pick raspberries awaits before the children go back to school

this dream, mottled with traces of time, where it’s always early morning, the gauzy sore that never quite heals in my early childhood after I fell off a cliff and lay drowned underneath liquid layers of orange soda

my father called her a “cunt”

mother cursed in her ghetto-Korean, her own ball and chain staring, petulant, jagged razor sharp from the corner of our paper-thin room close to the hole I used to shit in outside

where am I now, and should I stay inside this endless gig at the 24-hour Irish marketplace waiting for the gypsy to play? the coffee here is always bracing hot, cream in clouds above the lip of my dishwasher-stained cup

I can’t forget the tilapia with the eggs, his whispery notes playing havoc with my memories